Ten years ago, most Londoners had never heard of ceviche, let alone eaten it. Now, Peruvian cuisine is becoming so popular there’s a new restaurant popping up every few months and most people know their quinoa from their cuy*.
The latest of these is Andina (1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch), a new Peruvian all-day restaurant by Ceviche creator Martin Morales. With its low-key, casual interior and fairly pricey menu, it’s a less expensive alternative to upmarket Coya and Lima, but definitely not cheap by anyone’s standards.
I had dinner at Andina on a Friday night within two weeks of the restaurant opening. After being seated downstairs by a very friendly staff member, we were greeted by Mr Morales himself, who was making some final adjustments to the décor. He was happy to chat to us about his menu and he spent the rest of the evening working from a laptop at one of the dining tables.
I started off with a traditional Peruvian cocktail, Pisco Sour (£7). Probably the nicest Pisco Sour I’ve ever had, the level of lime juice made it so moreish I had to order three.
My partner sampled the Chamán (Greengage and plum infused pisco, cognac Hennessy VS, greengage and plum jam, muscovado sugar, fresh sage, £8) and a bottle of Peruvian Cusqueña beer.
Based on Mr Morales’s personal recommendation, we ordered the “Cheeky” ceviche (Thinly sliced hake and cod cheeks in a Nikkei-style tiger’s milk with blood orange and spring onion, £8.50) to start.
We weren’t disappointed – it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. The fish was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious, the sesame in the Tiger’s milk marinade gave it an almost nutty flavour and the blood orange was the perfect complement to this tangy dish.
The “Siwichi,” (Fresh seabass ceviche in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, golden berry, sweet potato, avocado, red onions, £8), was definitely the most interesting of our starters.
Developed by Mr Morales, it came in a glass bowl with the Tiger’s milk marinade on the side. We were instructed to pour the sauce on top of the seabass, give it a stir and leave for a minute before eating. Though the fish wasn’t quite as succulent as the hake and cod in the “Cheeky,” it was still delicious and made for a really interesting dish when combined with the crunchy texture of the “Cancha” corn and the tangy berries.
Our third starter, the “Res” (Thin slices of raw beef with figs, Uchucuta herb sauce, kiwi, mint and pisco dressing, £8.50) wasn’t quite as satisfying.
The beef carpaccio was lacking in flavour and was overpowered by the vinaigrette-style dressing, but the figs made a nice accompaniment.
Next time, I’ll have the incredible-looking “Tiger’s Milk Trio,” £5 – three shot glasses filled with gulp-sized portions of ceviche. I only caught a glimpse of them at the end of our meal but they looked mouth-watering and definitely the most colourful item on the menu.
Our shared main course was lamb skewers – a dish that had had just been added to the menu and still doesn’t appear on the website, so perhaps it didn’t make the cut. If it’s not on the menu, it definitely should be.
The meat was cooked absolutely perfectly – super-soft and tender, if slightly too salty, and the chunky Peruvian corn-on-the-cob was a like a super-sized version of the sweetcorn we normally get in the UK. The Andean herb sauce was a bit disappointing though – it may not be very Peruvian, but a big dollop of mint sauce would have gone down a treat.
We finished up with the “Lengua de Suegra” (Peruvian filo pastry with dulce de leche filling , pecan ice cream, £5). Tasty as it was, this could have done with being a little sweeter with a little more dulce de leche, but it made a nice end to a great meal.
Laid-back Andina fits in perfectly in Shoreditch. You can go there for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and have something as simple as a “Pig Butty,” £6, if you don’t fancy the full works. They also serve smoothies and their own blend of Fairtrade coffee.
Dinner for two with cocktails or wine will set you back around £100 and it’s not the kind of place to stuff yourself senseless, but it’s a great place to go for top-quality ceviche without the price tag of Lima or Coya.
What we ate (all shared):
Appetiser: One “Cancha” corn
Starters: One “Cheeky,” one “Siwichi,” one “Res”
Main: Lamb skewers
Dessert: Lengua de Suegra
Drinks: Three Pisco Sours, two Chamáns, two beers
Price for two people for dinner and six drinks: £100, including 12% service
Service: Very friendly, fast, knowledgeable – with bonus points for meeting the owner
Value for Money: 8/10
andinalondon.com / 020 7920 6499
*Alright, maybe you don’t know cuy. That’s guinea pig to you and me.